WEST END WARD LABOUR ACTION REPORT – March 2019
News from Councillor Pancho Lewis and the Labour Action Team
Kemp House, Berwick Street
We are continuing to liaise with Westminster City Council officers about drilling during quiet hours. Twice this month it has been reported that drilling during quiet hours by construction company Interserve has occurred – even though it is against the rules and is very disrespectful to residents and local businesses. Residents reported that:
“The basic issue is drilling, during the so-called quiet hours, into the concrete structure that connects to the Kemp House residential tower. The sound travels through the residential block and is disturbingly noisy within the flats – it sounds like someone is drilling into the wall next to you.”
It was widely reported in the press that Interserve have fallen into administration. We understand this will not impact development works on Berwick Street but we will remain vigilant.
We have made this suggestion to the Highways Team after it was made by a local resident:
“As a resident, I’ve been concerned about traffic patterns once the major construction projects have finally been completed. I’d like to see consideration of Peter Street becoming a “shared street” without kerbs and with heavy-duty paving. Currently the narrow pavements on both sides are easily obstructed by just one person – and usually there’s more than one just standing there. And the pavements get crushed by heavy vehicles getting around the corners.”
Great Windmill Street
We are working on a cross-party basis to help slow down traffic on Great Windmill Street as it comes off Shaftesbury Avenue, due to concerns that cars move very quickly along the street. Given Soho Parish School is located on G Windmill Street, this is especially concerning. Residents say:
“A prevalent issue at the moment, and certainly linked, is the speed of traffic coming up Great Windmill past the school. Only a matter of time before there’s an accident there. Do you know if anyone is doing anything about imposing 20mph speed restrictions or lower? How is this issue best tackled?”
We reported the following issue – stressing the importance of ensuring homeless people are re-housed and given proper support. We understand rough sleepers have not continued to use the entrance of Ingestre Ct in recent weeks since the issue was reported:
“Please see attached photos of rough sleepers this morning by the fire hydrant of Ingestre Court. Access to the hydrant should be u restricted at all times. The current scaffolding works(cratwd enclave) and the delays in installing a fence might be to blame. I trust this will be escalated to the council as yet a gain against a failure to act by CityWest.”
We were very concerned to receive a video showing drilling on Walker’s Court as part of a Soho Estates development. It is our view developers need to work around the needs of locals (including independent businesses), not the other way around. We reported it and since we understand there’s been no further disruptive drilling but will remain vigilant.
Instagram video of building work outside by Diamond Jacks tatoo parlour on Walkers Court taken by Darryl Gates.
Surely there has to be a better way of working? What are businesses & residents in @BerW1ckStMarket area to do?
(Insta: @darrylscorpio) https://t.co/w0BN0gCNhV pic.twitter.com/8hmSbvQob6
— Clare (Wright) Lynch (@clarelynchred) March 19, 2019
The disruption is described here:
“It has been a terrible day here working with this noise, dust, and smell of petrol. I contacted Westminster Council regarding the decibel level. I was assured someone would call me back in 45 minutes. No one did. I then visited Soho Estates and told them it was impossible to work in this environment. They just brushed me off making it out that I was the problem.
My customers and staff were all feeling extremely distressed by all this. I spoke with three Police Officers who were in Walkers Court today. They said the decibel level of the jackhammers far exceeded any legal limit and was louder than any football match crowd control they had experienced, but they could do nothing. I am deafened this evening and my employee started coughing from the dust particles as there were no sheets around the work. To top it all, Westminster’s business rates bill arrived today!”
Stirling Court, Broadwick Street
We have raised the following with Council ‘City Inspectors’ (who police the rules surrounding when building is permitted):
“Are works allowed on Sundays? They are working on the gulleys right outside the fifth floor flats windows. Their machinery and vehicles are blocking the pavement and driveway. It is not emergency works. Why do Shaftesbury think that it is acceptable to do this now so it does not disrupt their footfall and commerciality but ruins residents’ Sunday?”
Collapsed Vaults on D’Arblay Street
Councillor Pancho Lewis wrote to the Chief Executive of Westminster Council, asking that urgent action is taken to repair the collapsed vaults on D’Arblay Street after years of inaction. His letter is here:
“I’ve been liaising with [officers] for quite some time now about the collapsed vaults on D’Arblay Street in Soho. [They’ve] been helpful, but these collapsed about two years again now and there has been unbelievably slow progress in resolving the issue.
Residents and businesses in the area were understanding to begin with, but the length of time it’s taken to deal with the problem means people are at their wits’ end. Parking is made more difficult, there are traffic restrictions, anti-social behaviour has increased – there are many consequences. It also looks unsightly.
Clearly what people would like to see are the vaults repaired and the street re-opened. In addition, as a minimum, there should be communication to let residents and businesses know what’s happening – but people have been left in the dark.
I’d be grateful if steps could be taken to resolve the matter promptly.”
Brewer Street – Wrangler’s pop-up shop
Following very loud music recorded at a Wrangler’s pop-up shop, we raised the issue with City Inspectors and received this response:
“City Inspectors visited over the weekend and have been advised that all future performances at the store have been cancelled. For your information the Wrangler Icon Store is only there temporarily – it is currently a ‘pop-up’ shop and I understand it will cease to trade on 24th March 2019. I can also confirm that the registered entity is aware of the implications of the noise abatement Notice and the impact if the requirements are not complied with.
Thank you again for contacting us and please advise your residents to contact our 24 hour Noise Service (Tel: 020 7641 2000) to report any further noise disturbance from this, or indeed any other premise.”
Soho Clarion – March edition
The Soho Clarion can be accessed on this link:
There is a piece from Cllr Pancho Lewis.
Knife crime in Soho
It was reported in the media that there was a stabbing in Soho at the beginning of the month. Police released the following statement, below, in italics. It is important to note that, whilst any attack is cause for concern, attacks of this nature – as the police statement sets out below – are very rare in Soho. We would ask that if someone witnesses something suspicious they report it to the police.
We are pleased that in recent weeks following the changes brought about by the merger of police units in London the West End has now receive extra police attention and there has now been a net increase in the number of police officers according to local neighbourhood policeman Steve Muldoon.
“In Soho we have had two assaults with a knife this year. One on Romilly St last weekend and one Old Compton St just over three weeks ago.
Our thoughts clearly remain with those victims and the families of those who are injured. Both assaults have been targeted assaults and are not random within the Soho community. The second assault has seen two persons arrested and one of those charged with attempted murder. The male charged was charged within this offence and another attempted murder in University Street in Camden. At present the first investigation remains open. However this investigation has not been supported by the victim.
We will continue to deploy officers in hi-visibility to the area effected, we will also use numerous tactics available to us to target knife crime such as use of a knife arch, working with the TSB, the violent crime reduction task-force and deploying our own officers into areas.
We use stop and search regularly and will use this tactic to search for various things including knives and drugs. This will continue to be used by officers from the units mentioned.
Local ward officers are continually searching areas within Soho where knives could be left or discarded. To date this year no knives or other dangerous weapons have been located [though since the statement was released knives have been located].
We want to reassure the public that knife crime is extremely rare across Soho and the West End but all officers deployed remain vigilant and will deal with any offences that come to light.”
Tupperware scheme in Soho markets – what you say
“On the Tupperware scheme, you should check out Mildred’s. They provide choose-your-own salads in plastic containers with lids, and give you a discount if next time you bring back the same container to fill up with their salad.”
The following suggestion was made by a local resident, which we have supported by writing to Council officers, in particular the importance of distributing leaflets locally to inform residents of the rules:
“Please find attached a photograph recording the street dumping that occurred on the corner of Langham Street and Gosfield Street over the weekend. The chairs and furniture were dumped on Friday night and the fridge/freezer and television on Saturday night. There appears to have been a house clearance in Gosfield Street which has prompted these actions.
It is disappointing that the dumping is again taking place where the two new trees have been planted and that the corner of Langham Street and Gosfield Street has become a dumping spot of choice for the residents of Gosfield Street.
I wonder if this location can be kept under regular surveillance by the WCC refuse and enforcement officers and that Gosfield Street between New Cavendish Street and Langham Street can be leafleted by the Council making sure that residents/occupiers understand that street dumping is a serious offence and the high level of fines that can be levied against those carrying out this anti-social activity.